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Tom Mix, Published September 18 2013

Johannesson shakes tacklers on way to setting Fargo South records

Fargo - The North Dakota Class 3A football season is only four weeks old, but that hasn’t kept Fargo South running back James Johannesson from posting some eye-popping offensive numbers.

Every week, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior is a threat to run for big yardage as the featured runner in the Bruins backfield.

Last Saturday was Johannesson’s best career offensive game to date, and also required postgame updates to South’s record books.

Johannesson rushed for 331 yards on 14 carries and four touchdowns in South’s 38-24 win over Devils Lake. The yardage total was a new single-game school record, which was 20 yards better than the 311 yards Johannesson rushed for against Dickinson a year ago.

“I knew I could get more yards and beat the record, but I just never thought I’d stay in a game long enough to ever top it,” Johannesson said of the record. “We had a slow start to that game. I got a little frustrated and just started running. That’s really how it happened.”

Johannesson’s touchdowns were scored from 54, 35, 20 and 17 yards. He averaged 23.6 yards per carry.

“He looked like a beast out there,” Fargo South senior quarterback Zach Kellen said.

Johannesson also caught one pass for eight yards to give him 339 yards of total offense, which also is a new school single-game record.

“I always tell everyone I’m glad he is on our team,” South head coach Troy Mattern said.

Through three weeks, Johannesson has rushed for 768 yards (256 yards per game) and eight touchdowns.

“Our job as a coaching staff is to keep James fresh,” Mattern said. “If we could keep him in that 14 to 18 carry mark per game, he is going to be tough to handle. When he is fresh, he is a strong physical runner with great vision.”

South’s strong returning offensive line of Kyle Trefethren, Joe Mehrer, Hunter Hanson, Bjorn Strand and Drew Fahrman has also contributed greatly to the success of South’s running game.

“I got to give my line a lot of credit,” Johannesson said. “Seeing all the guys working in front of you makes you run a lot harder.”

Johannesson is on pace to surpass his sophomore season rushing totals of 1,455 yards and 16 touchdowns. Last season, Johannesson played a split role with Zach Reich, who ran for 1,272 yards and 24 touchdowns.

This fall, he has also been used as a receiver, a move Mattern said is designed to keep Johannesson from having to run through the tackles 25 times in a game.

“It’s just going to make our team that much better if we can use him in different spots, and we can get other guys in the backfield,” Mattern said of Johannesson’s receiving ability. “It gives defenses a different look.”

Johannesson has embraced the role of spot receiver, catching five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.

“If (coach) Mattern puts me out there at receiver I’ll go with it,” Johannesson said. “I’ll do whatever he tells me to do and what’s good for the team.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562